Purpose: Injuries to the female urethra associated with pelvic fracture are uncommon. They may vary from urethral contusion to partial or circumferential rupture. When disruption has occurred at the level of the proximal urethra, it is usually complete and often associated with vaginal laceration. We retrospectively reviewed the records of a series of girls with pelvic fracture urethral stricture and present surgical treatment to restore urethral continuity and the outcome.
Materials and methods: Between 1984 and 1997, 8 girls 4 to 16 years old (median age 9.6) with urethral injuries associated with pelvic fracture were treated at our institutions. Immediate therapy involved suprapubic cystostomy in 4 cases, urethral catheter alignment and simultaneous suprapubic cystostomy in 3, and primary suturing of the urethra, bladder neck and vagina in 1. Delayed 1-stage anastomotic repair was performed in 1 patient with urethral avulsion at the level of the bladder neck and in 5 with a proximal urethral distraction defect, while a neourethra was constructed from the anterior vaginal wall in a 2-stage procedure in 1 with mid urethral avulsion. Concomitant vaginal rupture in 7 cases was treated at delayed urethral reconstruction in 5 and by primary repair in 2. The surgical approach was retropubic in 3 cases, vaginal-retropubic in 1 and vaginal-transpubic in 4. Associated injuries included rectal injury in 3 girls and bladder neck laceration in 4. Overall postoperative followup was 6 months to 6.3 years (median 3 years).
Results: Urethral obliteration developed in all patients treated with suprapubic cystostomy and simultaneous urethral realignment. The stricture-free rate for 1-stage anastomotic repair and substitution urethroplasty was 100%. In 1 girl complete urinary incontinence developed, while another has mild stress incontinence. Retrospectively the 2 incontinent girls had had an associated bladder neck injury at the initial trauma. Two recurrent vaginal strictures were treated successfully with additional transpositions of lateral labial flaps.
Conclusions: This study emphasizes that combined vaginal-partial transpubic access is a reliable approach for resolving complex obliterative urethral strictures and associated urethrovaginal fistulas or severe bladder neck damage after traumatic pelvic fracture injury in female pediatric patients. Although our experience with the initial management of these injuries is limited, we advocate early cystostomy drainage and deferred surgical reconstruction when life threatening clinical conditions are present or extensive traumatized tissue in the affected area precludes immediate ideal surgical repair.